Archive for the ‘Fandom’ category

Why I added Bradley Dalton to my Twitter spammer list

October 13th, 2010

On 10/13/10 7:36 AM, Bradley Dalton wrote:
——————–
>WHY HAVE YOU PUT ME ON A SPAMMERS LIST ON TWITTER?

Hi.  Thank you for your question.  I don’t know which account you control.  What likely happened is the following:

You followed one of the five accounts I control.  (@purplepopple , @ozziesport are the two most likely culprits.)   I looked at the e-mail that notified me of your follow.

I likely looked at how many people you followed.  If you followed more than 1,000 people, the chances of you reading my Twitter stream was minimal.  People with more than 1,000 people they follow who continue to follow tend to be what I characterize as Twitter spammers.  They follow people with the hopes of getting follows  back where the person they follow will read their Twitter stream.  This makes a person a spammer: They are sending unsolicited requests to strangers, using a medium that has social pressures that tend to demand that you follow back in order to be nice. They don’t offer anything in return (what did you offer me?) that the person being followed would find valuable.  (I’m not interested in Viagra either)

I’ve heard arguments this type of follow isn’t spam because the person being followed doesn’t have to return the follow.  That’s bullshit in a social world.  It wouldn’t be spam if the person who initiated the follow sequence first decided to add the person to a list.  There isn’t social pressure to reciprocate by adding a person back to their own list.  They also don’t get return follows.

Having too many followers to actually follow wouldn’t be problematic.  Another way to get around spam following when you have a huge number of followers to the point where you can’t keep up with them but still want to follow is to engage them.  If, instead of following first, you had engaged me in dialog so that I’d want to follow you as clearly established that you wanted to  engage with me, were interested in what I was doing and offered me some value, I would likely follow you and then your return follow isn’t spamming… but rather follows the social norms of the community.

Now, as I don’t know your account situation, I might have added you to a spammer list for another reason.  That reason would involve having on your Twitter stream a statement like “Get 100 Twitter followers”.  If that’s the case, it demonstrates some one is not interested in providing value to the people they follow but instead are interested in improving a meaningless metric: Number of followers.

I hope that answers your question.  I would be happy to remove you from that list if you could offer me a clear and coherent rational for why, using my own definition for what a Twitter spammer is, you are not a Twitter spammer.  I love Twitter.  I’d love it more if people weren’t constantly sending Twitter follow spam and obsessing over the number of followers.

RecentChangesCamp 2010

June 7th, 2010

I haven’t mentioned as much as I have in the past because woe, I can’t afford the plane ticket to attend from Australia… but if you’re a wiki person in the United States or Canada and you want to learn about wikis, network with other wikis people, find help with your wiki project, learn about best projects, have some wiki topic you want to discuss, you should seriously consider attending RecentChangesCamp 2010. I’ve attended and helped organize RCC in the past and I can’t begin to explain what a fantastic experience it is.

I’ve pasted a copy of the invitation below.


You are invited to Recent Changes Camp 2010!

RCC 2009

June 25-27, 2010

1710, Beaudry, Montreal

Want to join? Just add your name to the list of attendees!

We’ll convene at the location on Thursday or Friday and wrap up on Sunday. Check back for the Agenda. There is no cost to participate other than transportation. We may even be able to help you find lodging.

What is Recent Changes Camp, anyway?

RCC 2009

RCC 2009

Recent Changes Camp was born from the intersection of wiki and Open Space. Since 2006, participants from all over North America and the globe have gathered together for a common purpose: discussing the past, present, and future of the technology and collaborative method that is wiki. RCC is a chance for everyone in the wiki community, something we like to call Wiki Ohana, to meet and have a fun, productive conversation about our passion for wikis of all stripes.

Going far beyond technology, we’re interested in wiki culture and other networks/groups/etc. that share many of the values implicit in it — from cultural creatives, to public participation and free culture advocates. If you use a wiki or you value open collaboration, Recent Changes Camp is created for you. RCC is about openness and inclusion, collaboration and community, creativity and flow. Further down this page you can check out a sampling of sessions we’ve enjoyed in the past, along with pictures and videos from previous events.

This unconference/BarCamp has been held at least once every year since 2006 (and twice in 2007). Unlike a conventional conference, where everything’s pre-planned and structured, RecentChangesCamp is a gathering where we decide for ourselves what we’re going to get out of it by offering sessions each morning on whatever we want (and of course ad hoc sessions can form at any time). There’s no agenda until we make it up! Now, that might sound a bit chaotic if you’re never been to this type of gathering, but be prepared to be surprised at how much people can learn and create when they collaborate spontaneously.

With an emergent agenda, it can be hard to describe specifically what you will get from participating in Recent Changes Camp. In large part, that is up to you to be responsible for. Participants often say greater sense of wiki community, broader sense of wiki way and wiki tools, or more excitement about our future together as well as inspiration and discovery.

At Recent Changes Camp, everybody is welcomed. You don’t need to be an expert on anything, and you certainly don’t need to consider yourself a geek. Collaboration thrives on diversity! All you need to bring is an open mind, and a willingness to participate, whether by teaching or by taking an active role in discussions. And, don’t forget, an unconference is what we make it, so let’s make it enlightening and fun.
Keywords: wiki, unconference, barcamp, open space, community, creativity, collaboration, technology, free culture, free/open source software

Qu’est-ce que les Rococo ?

Les RecentchangesCamp (Rococo en version française) sont nés à l’intersection des wikis et la Méthode du forum ouvert. Depuis 2006, les participants de l’Amérique du Nord et du globe ont réuni pour un but commun : discuter le passé, le présent et l’avenir des wikis mais de façon plus large, des méthodes et des processus collaboratifs et participatif.

Cette Rencontre sur la Collaboration, la Créativité et l’autOgestion est l’édition montréalaise du RecentChangesCamp de Portland. Ce BarCamp sera organisé selon la méthode du ForumOuvert qui suppose une mise en place collaborative de l’agenda. Les wikis resteront un objet technologique central à la rencontre, mais nous offrirons aussi une large place aux communautés sans fil et aux personnes qui, de façon générale, s’intéressent à la collaboration, à la créativité et à l’autogestion. Gardez en mémoire, que vous, chercheurs, artistes, programmeurs et praticiens, serez les principaux acteurs de cette rencontre sur les wikis, les technologies et médias participatifs et les pratiques collaboratives en général.

Sessions covering an array of interests

Time Schedule

  • Remember that the Agenda will be settled the first day only.

Previous years

RecentChangesCamp 2009, Portland, Oregon

RecentChangesCamp 2008, Palo Alto, California

RecentChangesCamp 2007, Montréal, Quebec (aka RoCoCo)

Video from RoCoCo :

RecentChangesCamp 2007, Portland, Oregon

RecentChangesCamp 2006, Portland, Oregon

Geolocation based search

May 15th, 2010

I’ve been kind of neglectful at Fan History of late.  A lot of this is because I’ve started a research degree focusing on sports fandom in Australia.  One of my interests has been Foursquare, because by watching sports venues, you can get an idea of geographic patterns in a fan community, see mobile phone penetration and kind of gauge the size of a fandom.  There are some really interesting patterns that I’ve begun to explore on Ozzie Sport.

Sites like Foursquare make the geographic component of online activity more important than ever before.  As more and more local businesses get online, finding relevant content so you can find a business near you grows more important.  This also applies to fandom: We want to find like minded fans in our area so that we can make new friends where we’ll have the chance to meet and maybe get together for a hot chocolate and discuss the newest episode of Survivor.  Or maybe, you can find a real time gathering of Twilight fans who are going to see a movie together.  That way, you don’t need to see it alone and can do a lot of squeeing over it with people who will appreciate your love of the books and movies.  If you’re a sports fan, sites like Foursquare can help you find local fans.  You can make the link to their Twitter account or their Facebook account, see if they are some one who seems like they share other interests with you… and if you’re both regularly attending games, then maybe you can find a new friend to go matches with.  Or if you’re a sports team, maybe you can use location services to see what you’re fans are saying about the venue and issues like parking or restrooms, and then figure out how to address these in real time.

Most of the time when people want to search, they go to Google. …  Or these days, they search on Twitter.  For location based search, these can be problematic.  Doing a search for “Harry Potter” fans Canberra is not likely to pull up relevant and timely results.  You can sort of do that sort of searching for events on Facebook or MeetUp.com but searching those limits the results to pages on their sites.  One site working to try to address the problems in location search is   http://sency.com/.  They’ve currently got search on for a couple of major cities.  (Sadly, none in Australia or I’d be all about using them on OzzieSport.com in order to get additional data.)  It is pretty cool in the bits that I’ve looked at.  If I want to see what Chicago folks are saying about the Blackhawks, it is pretty easy.  (And I shouldn’t have to worry about as much spam, unless it is originating from Chicago based spammers.  I also don’t have to worry about what San Jose fans are saying about the Blackhawks, because who wants to worry about another team’s fans raining on my love parade?)  If you get the chance, it is worth checking out.  There is some room for improvement as I can’t easily find links to the originating tweets and what content they do search is a bit limited, but the potential is there.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post.  One of the people involved with the company asked me if I might promote it and  as I like to promote things that I see as interesting and relevant to fandom, I’m happy to do that.

The art of following on Twitter

May 6th, 2010

Once again, I had a minor cranky fest with some one who followed me on Twitter, who didn’t like being labeled a spammer.  This person had over 10,000 followers and was continuing to follow others with more follows to followees.  I have around 300 to 250 people I follow and around 600 people who follow me.  My balance is the other way.

My follow philosophy is I follow people I plan to engage with or I follow corporate accounts, brand accounts, non-profit or local accounts (and theoretically celebrities but I don’t follow many of those) that are not strictly personal.  For me, the first group are people I don’t want to offend and I try to make sure that I’m tweeting content related to their interests when I follow them and try to engage them at some point early in my follow.  For example, I’ve been following some Australians who are local to Canberra or interested in sports.  We have specific content in mind.  I’m not keyword following those but generally checking out specific people and their accounts or recommendations.  That’s personal.  The second type of account I’m less worried about as corporate and brand accounts are not expected to behave the same way as personal accounts: There is no onus to interact with those accounts, no reciprocation in follow backs that is implied.  Those accounts tend to have the purpose of promoting a product at me.  I’m obviously not going to provide any content of value back for the Australian National Library.  (Where as for a librarian from Canberra on their personal account?  I should provide the individual some reason to social follow me back.)

I can get really cranky about this sort of thing.  I blog about it a fair amount.  I have in my profile that if you want a follow back, you need to @ reply with why you followed me.  I’m less truthful than I should be with that statement.  What I really mean is: What value do you provide to me if you want a follow back?  You can follow me because you love Fan History and that’s awesome but if you’re always tweeting about Slovenian politics in Slovenian, you’re not much value to me in terms of me following you.   And if you’re a personal follow, I want that and if you can’t provide that, you’re nothing more than a Twitter spammer. Corporate accounts have pretty much the same issues only with a slight twist.  If I’m tweeting about how much I love the University of Canberra, it would make sense for them to follow me.  I might not be aware of them and they can do reputation management easily by keeping track of their public voices.  If you’re a Christian bookstore in Denver (which is far away from where I live) and I’ve never tweeted about Christianity and your business has over 3,000 followers and an imbalance where you’re following more than you’re getting followed back?  You have no business following me as I’m not going to help your business and, again, you’re offering me no value as a follower.

A lot of social media experts early in Twitter’s history promoted the concept of more followers leading to increased credibility and how it gives you increased market awareness.  It’s dumb, stupid and anyone doing that and espousing it should be fired rather quickly.  Those aren’t the social rules that have developed and a lot of people on the fringes of Twitter are getting tired of these random follows from brands they don’t know, from individuals with 10,000 follows.  At some point, you’re also likely to run across an individual like myself who is tired of this crap who going to label you a spammer for keyword following anyone who has history in their profile.  You’re going to get some one giving you crap and you’ll get some bad PR.   (And no, not all bad publicity is good publicity.  Many small businesses can’t afford that sort of thing.  Would you want to be getting publicity because you’re a pizzeria who made news for failing to pass a health inspection?)    Making it worse, your own bad business practices bring it on yourself.  And if you engage people like me who don’t like your follow practices, you’re just making yourself look worse.  (Or not because really, how many people in that 10,000 person net you have are actually reading your tweets?)

Oh and let’s not forget that idiocy involving keyword following or mass following people can wind up making you look bad when people discover that you’ve followed white supremacists, racists,  people who do not share your values, competitors you’re not friendly with or people who reflect badly on you that your follow practices made you voluntarily chose to follow but that’s a different story.

Following on Twitter is an art.  When following, you should ask: What does this person offer me and what value do I offer them in return?  If you can’t think of a good answer, then consider adding the person to a list.  That way, everyone wins and there is less crappy art (bad following) going on.

Edited to add: And with in a minute of posting this, John Kewley (@brainrider) followed me.  He has more people he follows than follow him.  He has 5,000+ people he follows.  He offers services for companies.  He’s never going to read me and I’m unlikely to ever use his services described as: “BrainRider Knowledge Marketing Group. We help companies create more customers by sharing what they know. Visit us to download our free e-books.”  If he has some value to potentially offer me, it isn’t clear based on his recent tweets.  This is another classic exaple of failing at the art of following.

ning preservation efforts on Fan History Wiki

April 17th, 2010

ning is shutting down its free communities at some point soon.  This move was announced after ning also announced they were laying off 42% of their staff.  Like bebo, there isn’t necessarily many historical artifacts on the service.  Also like bebo, one of the major communities that appears to be there is the fanvid one. A lot of what needs to be preserved includes pages that begin to demonstrate the size, scope and activity type of the community.

We don’t particularly have much time to do that on Fan History.  (And with our staff going away, having family issues, going back to school and work issues… we’re even more crunched.)  So like bebo, our focus will be on screencapping a select number of pages, uploading them and putting them into categories for later historical work.  Our goal is to cap and upload around 100 to 200 pages.  This is about on par with our bebo efforts.  (Though our bebo efforts have a lot more data stored in various databases as  I’ve been collecting it longer related to another project.)

If you’d like to help us screencap and upload, we would really appreciate the help.  If you would like to help us out by adding descriptions and integrating information about this network on to appropriate articles, that would be even more appreciated.  One of the struggles of Fan History is realizing we can’t preserve everything… but that we can still try preserve enough to help people understand what was happening.

Stop the keyword follow spam…

April 12th, 2010

I quoted Star Wars: Clone Wars on Twitter.  Some one commented to say the quote was good but they weren’t a huge fan of Star Wars.  I commented back with the Clone Wars cartoon was better than Star Wars episodes I, II, III.  I mentioned cartoons several times and I got a spam follow from @quinnmichaels.   Why?  He likes cartoons and I mentioned them.   He follows over 10,000 people so the value I would get from returning that follow?  Zero.  If I had wanted to follow some one who is never going to read me, I could have done it with out the prompting of the follow.  He didn’t even take the time to read my profile.  If he had, he would have seen the message about @ replying to me in order to get a return follow.  And if he just wanted to collect people who tweet about cartoons with out the follow obligation?  He could have added me to a list.

People like @quinnmichaels need to stop the keyword spam follows.  It is rude.  It is spam like.   I don’t mention cartoons regularly.  I tweet about sports, wikis, Australia, Chicago and Illinois, pictures I take, fandom in general.  Following me because I made keyword mentions of a term he follows, absent the context, while not being able to articulate that and clearly not even bothering to check my profile?  When he has 10,000 followers and 9,000 people follow him?  These are the sort of people killing Twitter.

I don’t hate art.  I don’t begrudge artists the right to market themselves and try to sell their work.  If one were to ask me, I’d be happy to help them figure out how to use Fan History to promote their work.  If they asked nicely, I would probably be happy to retweet them.  If they were on DeviantART and were doing something with charity, I’d probably be inclined to blog about them if asked.  I love helping people and I know how hard it is to make it as an artist.  My not appreciating @quinnmichaels‘s spam following practices has nothing to do with his being an artist.  It has everything to do with his keyword following, while offering zero value to those he follows.

And his current practice is not likely to help him sell art.  If you have 9000 followers based on trying to get followers?  Those 9000 people are about as likely to read you as you are to read them.  If you’re trying to sell on Twitter and you’re not a big brand with a built in audience, you start with a small following.  You’re personal to that small audience.  You selectively follow as you’re more likely to sell one on one than to a huge mass audience… (unless you have a mass following and most artists are not Dell computers or United Airlines).  You ask people who read your blog to follow you.  You don’t just follow random people with no common interests.

That’s social marketing 101.

Geocities vs. Bebo preservation efforts

April 9th, 2010

bebo may be closing.  … or it might not if AOL can find a buyer for bebo.  bebo has (or had) a strong fandom presence.  Some groups have over 10,000 members.  Some videos have had over 30,000 views.  People engaged in various types of fanac on the network.  On bebo, the fanac may have been more discussion based and vidding based than Geocities.  Geocities had essays and picture and sound galleries.  Geocities was also the home to huge amounts of fan fiction dating back to the mid-1990s.  bebo’s community was much more about interaction with others.  Geocities’s community was more about content providing.  (Both had some truly awful levels of design.)

The distinction of what amounts to interactive versus static content makes bebo preservation difficult.  There just doesn’t feel like much worth saving on bebo.  Do we want to save fan fiction on bebo?  No, not particularly as it really isn’t there.  (People linked to their fan fiction hosted elsewhere.)  Was bebo viewed as fundamental to fannish interaction at any time?  No, not particularly except maybe in pockets of Irish and British fandom or sports fandom.

Given the lack of useful content actually preserve, how do we approach that?  The way that I’m looking at is this: We’re looking to define the size and scope of the fandom.  How many people were in particular fandoms?  What tools on bebo did people use to express their fannish interest?  When were these communities active?  What did their group pages look like?  This information can be manually mined and put into a database.  It can also be attained by screencapping search results, profile pages, band pages, video pages and app pages.  Once capped and uploaded, people can look through it, talk with others and begin to get an idea as to how the community function.  That’s the goal: Get enough capped and put into a useful dataset so people at a later date can use that data to explain how the fannish community worked.

And that’s really the difference between Fan History’s efforts: Content preservation and confirmation that existed versus providing insight into how a community functioned.

Fan History Preservation project: bebo

April 8th, 2010

If you haven’t heard the news, it looks likely that bebo will be closing by June.   There was a strong and active fannish community over on bebo.  Sadly, we don’t really have the time to do a full out preservation effort like we tried to do with Geocities.  What we will try to do in the mean time is to create a database of groups on bebo that we can make into individual articles.  We will also upload screencaps of random bebo pages that will be uploaded.  It isn’t much but it can begin to give people a picture of what happened on bebo.  This will be on top of our existing bebo related articles.  If you can help us by improving existing articles and creating new ones?  That would be massively appreciated.  This sort of history is important to remember and document.  Time is limited so it has to be done now.

Project Wonderful performance

April 6th, 2010

We’ve been using Project Wonderful for about two months now. We haven’t done a lot of posting asking users to buy ads to support us. We haven’t contacted people and asked them to buy ads on PW from us. We mostly left it alone, didn’t do much self promotion to ramp up our traffic. (We’ve been busy elsewhere.) How have we done?

Meh. Not well. That doesn’t come close to covering our current hosting. We’d probably be doing better if we had bigger ads and more ads. The fan oriented wikis that I know that us PW get comparable traffic but have more ads and bigger ads. They also actively promote their wikis in ways that we don’t. They also ask their community to buy advertisements. Those three things mean that they come much, much closer to covering their hosting costs than we could ever dream of with our current strategy.

Across The Pond, a Queer as Folk fan fiction archive, needs help

April 6th, 2010

Parts of this were cross posted to qaf_coffeeclub and as I emphasize with their needs, I thought I’d crosspost their plea here as I hate to see archives in trouble…

Just an FYI.

Okay fellow Queer As Folk fans … UK Qaf, US Qaf, or both!!! ALL
PAIRING PREFERENCES!!!!

If you want to keep the ATP Archive up and running – please read this
information.

Some of you may know I am an archivist at the Across The Pond QAF
Fiction Archive. It’s been many years of hard work, but not a little
pairing drama…lol (just teasing) – but through it all, there has
always been one place that served as an archive for all pairing
choices and all versions of the show “Queer As Folk”.

Now we all have our own pairing favs, and in some cases, we may also
have our pairing specific archives. But all of us know that there is
value in diversity, and having a wider selection can yield many
rewards.

And now, in the spirit of hope, I’m asking for your help to keep the
archive alive. Please read the information below, and know that
ANYTHING you can give is greatly appreciated.

Since our last donation drive in 2006, our failsafe backer(s) have
quietly slipped out of the fandom, and the Archive has literally been
surviving on air for almost a year thanks solely to the generosity of
our host provider. But they can no longer let things stand as they
are. This has come as news to me, and I’m sure to many of you. So
your help is needed, and needed now – if possible. In that spirit -
please share this request with your other QAF communities on
LiveJournal, Yahoogroups, etc.

Remember – No action = no result. And in this case, that would mean
the end of ATP.

The goal for their fundraiser this year is $500

The money will be used for hosting cost, maintenance for the site, and any overages for bandwidth.

Direct PayPal link

Invitation: RecentChangesCamp (RoCoCo) 2010

April 5th, 2010

Recent Changes Camp 2010: Montréal will be held June 25-26-27, 2010 at the Comité Social Centre Sud (CSCS), located at 1710 Beaudry, in Montréal.

What is Recent Changes Camp, anyway?

Recent Changes Camp was born from the intersection of wiki and Open Space. Since 2006, participants from all over North America and the globe have gathered together for a common purpose: discussing the past, present, and future of the technology and collaborative method that is wiki. RCC is a chance for everyone in the wiki community, something we like to call Wiki Ohana, to meet and have a fun, productive conversation about our passion for wikis of all stripes.

Going far beyond technology, we’re interested in wiki culture and other networks/groups/etc. that share many of the values implicit in it — from cultural creatives, to public participation and free culture advocates. If you use a wiki or you value open collaboration, Recent Changes Camp is created for you. RCC is about openness and inclusion, collaboration and community, creativity and flow. Further down this page you can check out a sampling of sessions we’ve enjoyed in the past, along with pictures and videos from previous events.

This unconference/BarCamp has been held at least once every year since 2006 (and twice in 2007). Unlike a conventional conference, where everything’s pre-planned and structured, RecentChangesCamp is a gathering where we decide for ourselves what we’re going to get out of it by offering sessions each morning on whatever we want (and of course ad hoc sessions can form at any time). There’s no agenda until we make it up! Now, that might sound a bit chaotic if you’re never been to this type of gathering, but be prepared to be surprised at how much people can learn and create when they collaborate spontaneously.

With an emergent agenda, it can be hard to describe specifically what you will get from participating in Recent Changes Camp. In large part, that is up to you to be responsible for. Participants often say greater sense of wiki community, broader sense of wiki way and wiki tools, or more excitement about our future together as well as inspiration and discovery.

At Recent Changes Camp, everybody is welcomed. You don’t need to be an expert on anything, and you certainly don’t need to consider yourself a geek. Collaboration thrives on diversity! All you need to bring is an open mind, and a willingness to participate, whether by teaching or by taking an active role in discussions. And, don’t forget, an unconference is what we make it, so let’s make it enlightening and fun.

http://rococo2010.org/
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=114318455249901
http://twitter.com/rccamp
http://identi.ca/rccamp

NBC Olympic coverage: Why it sucked

February 28th, 2010

At the start of the games, I complained about the coverage… and as the games end (and the USA is behind Canada in the game for ice hockey gold), it is time to complain again.  This is a crosspost based on a comment I made to another blog.

The coverage was awful. It could have been better had NBC used CNBC, MSNBC and USA more effectively to cover events. (But even those often had tape delays, or showed the second half of a two part event. Where was the ski jumping?)

It was made worse by the Pixar commercials in the middle of coverage. I get it. Pixar has a movie coming out about vikings and dragons… but after the third or forth time a commentator cut to the Pixar vision of generic Olympic event in viking times? I had enough of that. The second week had less of that, and instead involved promotion of another movie that the anchors didn’t plug as much.

They decided before the games who the athletes that we would care about were. They had video packages made. We got to see them again and again when ever they could think of a relevant reason to show those pre-packaged clips instead of actual sports. When unknown sports heroes arose, no one seemed to know how to cover those.

There were few options to watch events live on their website, except for the few that were being run live on their sister networks.

There were large moments of advertising Whistler and British Columbia… which would have been awesome, had they not felt like everything being aired by others trying to capitalize on the Olympic feeling.

Then we had moments of sexism, where commentators insisted on calling female athletes girls. We had moments of putting down and insulting Olympians because the commentators didn’t see their sport as a real sport. We had moments of homophobic behavior where commentators mocked Johnny Weir for what they considered his effeminate behavior. We had moments where blatant racism wasn’t called out with the Russians and their Aboriginal dance but still happily highlighting their lovely and interesting costumes.

It was a failure for the US and pretty embarrassing. It almost explains why the USOC screwed Chicago out of hosting 2016 in order to try to get their own network to cover the events.

Possible Fanfiction.net Hoax?

February 27th, 2010

I got an email in my Facebook inbox that right away I just had to click on. In fact, I was concerned because this means that in the past few days Fanfiction.net has been prey to a hacker sending out mails to various people. My thoughts were that this was a hoax and I hope the main administrators can do something about this, whether issue a response saying that this “James” person is indeed a mod at the site, or that he is not and a solution like fixing the problem that led to the site’s infiltration.

However, I could not let AngstGoddess003′s message go unheard and had to share it. Of course, this was done with her permission.

Hey, I am better known in the Twilight fandom as AngstGoddess003. Lately, all of us in the fandom have been receiving suspicious email replies and citations from someone named James at support@fanfiction.com. He is unable to prove the validity of his employment there, and often to replies to emails snarkily, and with some of the poorest English I have ever seen. He refers to sexual content as “smut” and his emails are usually so laughable that one wonders if he’s 12.

The IPs and email headers on these do not match up to previously received replies from fanfiction.com. Very suspicious stuff.

I’ve been investigating him, since people are giving out info to him through emails (sigh… I know.. not smart!), but you know how it goes when contacting FFn. All support emails go to him, which means he’s either a troll that’s hijacked the address, or is just a new, dumb ass employee. Either way, I’ve been in contact with former staffers who confirm that James’ emails are far from the protocol they’ve known. They personally believe him to be a troll, and can’t see FFNET allowing his behavior.

Sadly, emails sent to the other two addresses provided (reportabuse@fanfiction.com and categories@fanfiction.com) are going frustratingly unanswered. Of course, this is the FFn we all know and love.

BUT, no one can verify James’ place on the staff there, and if he is a fake, then he is somehow getting members’ personal contact information, which is quite worrying. And if he IS, in fact, a legitimate member of the FFNET staff, then I feel like we should have a superior or colleague to report his verbal abuse to, something he himself is completely unable or unwilling to provide to me.

The fact of the matter is, he is sending out hundreds of emails per day, and I can’t seem to officially confirm or debunk anything whatsoever. Hence, people are still talking to this man through support@fanfiction.com, and even possibly giving him information under the guise of keeping their stories live.

I want to get to the bottom of it, but am having some trouble reaching out to other fandoms to document their experiences with this person.

The first leg of my investigation can be found here: http://angstgoddess003.livejournal.com/26810.html

You can find me on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/AngstGoddess003

I know you post often at a very popular blog (Fan History), and was wondering if you’ve heard anything of this sort from other fandoms, or could offer me any advice or information about past activity from support@fanfiction.com.

For the last month or so, James has been answering all questions sent there. I actually, no lie, got a response the other day within five minutes of sending an email. Unheard of, yes? It is all very weird. I’m just hoping someone there can tell us something. Any info or advice you could offer would be truly invaluable. Perhaps if you even knew of a way that I could reach out to other fandoms on a broader basis than singular LJ comm posting, lol. That’d be awesome.

Thanks for your time. Sorry for bothering you!

Highest Regards,
AngstGoddess003

What are your thoughts in this matter? Do you think it is a hoax?

Nick Simmons Plagiarism Fail

February 26th, 2010

Not surprising to see another celebrity’s child stir up legal troubles. This time it is Nick Simmons, son of the Kiss’s frontman Gene Simmons.

Who did Nick plagiarize? Fans were quick to point out the similarities between his graphic novel Incarnate and the well loved anime Bleach. Some of the pictures in the article Gene Simmons’ son Plagiarizing Bleach? by by karenai prove that this is no false accusation.

In fact, the anime fandom seems to be popping up with articles about this fiasco from LiveJournal and even DeviantART.

The similarities are so obvious. How did Radical Publishing fail to see this when Bleach is seen by millions every day. Radical’s response in regards to Incarnate on their Radical Publishing Official MySpace site‘s blog was:

We at Radical Publishing, Inc. and Radical Comics, Inc. are quite concerned to hear the news surrounding Nick Simmons’s Incarnate Comic Book. We are taking this matter seriously and making efforts now to contact the publishers of the works in question in an effort to resolve this matter. We have halted further production and distribution of the “Incarnate” comic book and trade paperback until the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. Rest assured that Radical is taking swift action regarding this matter and will continue in its efforts to maintain the integrity and protect the intellectual property of artists throughout the world whose creative works are the bedrock of our Company and the comic book industry.

This is actually re-published from their Radical Publishing official site’s blog.

This is not good for any company and there is no need to ‘investigate allegations’. This should be pulled from the shelves as it is a blatant plagiarism.

But who knows, some celebrities and their children only walk away with minor wounds to lick.

What are your thoughts?

Fandom history then and now

February 25th, 2010

During 2006 and 2007, I had several conversations with people where I said that the model of fandom developed online from 1998 to 2006 was fundamentally dead.  The major changes for this involved shifting business strategies, strategies that required content creators to actively engage and develop their fan bases as they had never done before.  You couldn’t risk shutting down whole sites or categories on a site with a cease and desist letter. The impact would be negative and newsworthy.  Fans would rally to protest such actions if taken on any scale and the demographics of fan communities had changed so that content creators couldn’t assume that fans would do anything to avoid going to court.

To counter fannish usurpation of their branding, message and ability to market themselves, I predicted increased engagement as a form of control  Why use legalities to shut down conversation when you can channel the message, host the content, define the rules, use other forms of media to help define a fan community to better build your brand?  It was the logical business decision, and one that content creators have slowly adopted.

The net result of this shift includes an increased speed in terms of how fast fandom moves, a diffusion of power structure in fan based communities, breaking down barriers between creators and fans as each use each other for their own purposes, and an overall blurring of the lines between entertainment/general popular culture fans and more hard core fandom. At the same time, as business models change, technology and how people interact with it are changing.  Things that were once very hard to access are becoming more readily accessible.

There are just a lot of changes that are happening really, really fast.  It can and does often feel overwhelming.  (And then, today, Ozzie Guillen got on Twitter.)

There feel like a lot more choices in what to be fannish about.  Television for example is no longer limited in the United States to the major networks in order to get original programming.  It also isn’t limited to premium, pay extra for a station original programming for original dramatic and comedic television.  Increasingly, “cable” stations are creating their own original programming.  If a show is bumped from network television, some networks are picking these shows up.   Added to this confusion of more original programming, it is easier to access original content from other countries and countries that don’t speak English.  Consumers aren’t limited to expensive imports on VHS.  The prices have dropped and getting things on DVD is really easy.  BitTorrents are another option.  YouTube is another place to find that content.  It is easier to make friends with some one across the globe who might share their interests with others.  (I introduced an Australian friend to Kings.  Then, two days later, the announcement that the show was canceled hit.)  This wasn’t the case even five years ago.

Content producers are accessible like never before and they aren’t afraid to try to manipulate fans for various reasons.  Heck, there are currently several projects out there which seek to use fandom to crowdsource the funding of movies or crowdsource the writing of scripts.  Crowdsourcing is becoming more and more frequent.  It just doesn’t begin to compare to the engagement of content producers.  They will interact with fans on Twitter, create fan pages on Twitter, set up contests, solicit fans for ideas, comment on their own performance.   They have blogs.  they answer e-mails. They publicly thank fans for their support online and off, and have been known to name fans by name.  Gone are apparently the days of jms where content producers were afraid to engage fans like that.  People seeking book deals model that behavior to develop their own fan bases because a large fan base can help you get published as publishers know you have a built in audience.

The media is also increasingly engaging fans.  (Even as some are trying to disengage from companies like Google to better lock their content.)  They haven’t been as active in trying to get copyrighted material removed from fansites.  They engage with fans on Twitter, create Facebook fan pages, encourage people to comment, create official accounts on services like Buzz and Google Wave.  They will promote fansites, treating them as a normal part of the discourse involving a movie or show to the point where movie and television show and now used interchangeably with the term fandom.  The media distinction for media fandom between super fans and passive consumers of a product is eroding.  Media access to the power players, what the media has to say as a result of those connection has a greater impact on wider fandom than ever before because the information isn’t just consumed by hard core players who can act on it but an increasingly activist traditionally passive consumer base.  Knowledge gained from the media, easy access to power players on social media and media willing to give serious, non-demeaning attention to fan activism is a  new cycle that begets real results.  It makes it easier to participate in because the barriers are fewer and there are fewer barriers for passive consumer to become small time activists.

The acceptance of fandom, especially around anime, television, sports, video games, movie, theater and actors, has made it easier for fans to bring their friends and family into the community; spaces are harder to define as purely fannish, business or professional.  (Even content creators are breaking these barriers.  It isn’t just fans.)  It isn’t something you need to keep as in the closet as you once had to.  One of the results of this is that the size of fannish communities are exploding: A community that might once have had 500 people may now have 50,000 people.  As a consequence, personal interaction and the development of purely fannish relationships can be harder to make and we fall more into regional patterns again, where were assign greater value to the people online that we can and have met in person.  (It is like fandom during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.)  This can and does lead to a diffusion of fannish activity as people try to make their experiences manageable and not overwhelming while still maintaining that identity as part of a larger group.

When there is a larger group identity, it can be more powerful than it ever was before.  Fans can get together and run a fan run convention with budgets of a hundred thousand dollars.  Fans are networked enough so that they can raise large amounts of money for charity efforts when things that impact our greater society happen.   (Just look at how they responded to Haiti.)  The amount of money that fans are capable of raising in a short time period is like nothing that fans could do even four years ago.  They might have been able to raise $250,000 before but it might have taken them several years to accomplish that.  If their community has the right connections, it could just take a few days.

Scale and size and eroding boundaries boundaries between traditional components of fandom have fundamentally changed definitions of fandom. Things have been sped up.  The amount of communities is huge.  The amount of activity is insane and trying to quantify and qualify what type of activity that is has become increasingly difficult.

In short, we really need to begin to get a grasp on this and document it for the sake of fandom history.  On the other hand, this is just overwhelming in the extreme.  As a fan historian, who likes to document some things happening in the hear and now, it is discouraging.  There is just so much data that it is hard to process. I’m overwhelmed at how to document the then and document the now. I know what’s going on but all that’s going on makes it hard to find a starting point.

Help?

Help Wanted! Think Galacticon 2011 Needs You.

February 19th, 2010

I attended this convention in 2007.  It was really interesting and if you’re in the Chicago area, I’d urge you to attend.  They sent out the following e-mail that I thought I would share here as they need help:

This is a reminder that Think Galacticon needs volunteers, and your time for signing up is running out!

We were serious when we said Think Galacticon wouldn’t happen if we didn’t get enough volunteers. But although the February 15th deadline for joining the organizing committee has passed, we’ve extended it until the end of the month. We’re still short of the numbers we need to organize the con in a healthy way. If you want the con to happen and haven’t volunteered yet, please join! If you know someone who’d be a good concom member, spread the word! Our (actually) final deadline is Feb. 28th. If we don’t fill our core positions by that date we won’t be throwing a 3rd fabulous leftist SF/F weekend in Chicago.

We’re especially looking for people in Chicago, but wherever you are, we’d love your help. Let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll figure it out. Below are key positions we’re looking to fill:

Self-Care Assistant- Local
Venue Liaison – Local
Accommodations Liaison – Local
Registration Coordinator- Local
Volunteer Coordinator- Local
Events Coordinator- Local
Consuite Coordinator- Local
Publications Coordinator- Local
Programming Coordinator- Anywhere

Job descriptions and information on other open positions can be found here: http://community.livejournal.com/think_galactic/2010/01/14/. There are more jobs to take on than those above, but not filling the ones above will stop us from having a Think Galacticon in 2011.

If you’re interested, e-mail concom2011@thinkgalactic.org with the position you are interested in and whether you’re local to Chicago.

Thanks!

Fanfiction.net Fail – Ads

February 19th, 2010

Now, I am aware the fanfiction giant, Fanfiction.net needs funding. I also know it brings in quite a bit of money. However, I am just wondering if the site might actually grow up and out of their table phase and more into Web 2.0 where they could offer better advertising.

Better advertising by which means ads that do not interfere with the scrolling of the site and ads that totally direct people off of the site. This happens way too often. There has to be a better way for Fanfiction.net to integrate a better advertising system.

Their advertising system is a complaint I have heard over the last decade other than extreme adult material on the site that still remains even though they have policies toward such material. I think most people can deal with the primitive design, but the advertising is an annoyance. Where some fanfiction and fandom sites are upgrading into 2.0 and climbing in rank and traffic, Fanfiction.net has stayed the same for the last six months, according to Alexa.

So even if Fanfiction.net never changes their normal system, at least fix what system is currently installed. It is a total fail unless the point was to totally push users onto their advertisers’ sites.

X-Box fans: xbox.answers.wikia.com needs your help

February 17th, 2010

An acquaintance in #wikia (yes, I’m back hanging out there. I have a confusing relationship with the site) asked me to plug xbox.answers.wikia.com.  It is a relatively new Wikia answers site for help you need.  If you have questions about the X-Box, ask them there.  If you can help answer questions, please help edit.  The wiki is also recruiting new admins so if you have wiki adminning experience and are looking for a new project, it is also worth checking out.

USA (NBC)’s Olympics curling coverage

February 16th, 2010

Yesterday, we got Olympics at one CST on NBC.  Today, we got USA at 11 with curling.  (It continued on with hockey.)  NBC kicks in at 3pm with speed skating.

Curling coverage is about what I wanted: The game, the game and the game.  They didn’t cut away to give me Pixar commercials (no how curling would have been during the Viking age), no player profiles that last five minutes and rerun repeatedly.  NBC/USA could have given us a bit more with what was going on in the other three lanes but that’s okay.  I’d still prefer the US obsession while covering the damned sport mostly uninterrupted to what we’ve had so far.

Now I have to make the choice of hockey (love) or speed skating and other Olympic sports that I feel NBC will botch in covering.

NBC’s Olympic coverage is ruining my Olympic spirit

February 15th, 2010

I love sports and I love the Olympics.  I sack out in front of the television and watch them.  The summer games were at times fantastic because there were sometimes up to four channels with coverage.  Yes, tape delayed to bring the best stuff in prime time was annoying… but at least I had options to watch events that NBC wasn’t as concerned about ratings wise.

Cut to the Winter Games.  I want to watch something that I know is on live.  No dice.  There isn’t wall to wall Olympic sporting events.  Suck.  It is Presidents Day and CNBC isn’t covering business news because the markets in the US are closed.  Did we get anything there?  Nope.  We got a few hours from noon to about three pm on NBC.  Nothing on any of NBC’s other channels.  Zippo.  On a day when markets are closed.  It is depressing.  What we get in primetime is tape delayed events that NBC is happy to spoil for me with poor timing with Tom Brokaw.  (He didn’t say you could turn your head back to the screen.  Instead, he started talking about the Chinese pair’s figure skating while NBC left medal info on the screen.)

The major events that we get involve Americans where we think that they will perform better than any other Americans have before or where we think that they have medal chances.  We don’t get profiles of athletes outside of Americans.  …  Unless they are figure skaters.  I’ve yet to see curling on screen.  I didn’t get to watch an American women hockey game.

Just fail fail fail.  NBC is ruining my experience as a fan who wants to watch games on television or through streaming media. If you didn’t want to broadcast the games NBC, you should have figured out how to get out of your deal.  How you handled it (and the Leno situation) sucks.

katsucon convention reports

February 15th, 2010

We’re trying to compile a list of convention reports for fandomnews and Fan History’s katsucon article.  If you have links, please feel free to edit the article or comment on this post so we can add them in.  The convention reports we’ve found so far include:

ProjectWonderful wonderfulness

February 5th, 2010

I feel like most of my recent posts have been bitter and angry.  (Which alas, my reaction to money problems and other people.)  I do have some rather cool news.  We’ve been using ProjectWonderful for a while.  We did bigger ads when we opted out of Amazon.com and got ToSed again from Google Ads.  They’ve made their advertising potentially more profitable for fansites.  How?  By geotargetting their ads.  Advertisers can buy ads for the US, Canada, Europe and everyone else.  That means instead of one potential income stream from one ad, you have four.  And advertisers win because they can better target their market.

It makes me happy.

AdultFanFiction.Net down

January 29th, 2010

There are a few reports that AdultFanFiction.Net has been down today.  If you’re not connecting, you’re not alone.

Thank you Ross!

January 28th, 2010

E-mail and I can have a goofy relationship.  I love to get those little paypal notifications of donations received because yay! a little bit less stress in my life.  At the same time, I never feel like I can express enough gratitude towards the people who have helped Fan History keep going by donating, no matter how little.  Thus, reading those e-mails is a little bit scary.

So I put off reading the one from Ross last night until this morning.  And when I did, my eyes about bugged out of my head and I had to reread the e-mail about five times to check the decimal place: He donated $500.00 towards Fan History.  That should keep Fan History going for about three months, give or take a few weeks.  And that’s a huge amount of less stress on me and it makes it easier for us to complete our mission as we don’t have to worry for the next two or three months about how to pay for the site.

And wow.  Just wow.  I… yeah.  I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am.  Seriously.  Wow.  And thanks.  And thanks again.

I’d also like to thank Nile for her $5.00 and to anyone else who can help support us.

GoogleAds continue to suck: You’re suspended again with no explanation and no recourse

January 28th, 2010

About a week ago, I talked to an industry person I really respected about the cash flow problems that Fan History has had and the stress that this has caused for me.  I’m not really good with the monetization aspect of running Fan History.  It is a problem and a chronic one.  He suggested trying Google Ads again because it works really well for his site.  (And the more prominent the ad placement, the more potential earnings for Fan History.)  We had tried them before on Fan History, only to be suspended right before we would have gotten our first check for $120 so I was leery.  Nevertheless, I conceded to myself that maybe it was time to try again. We did that on January 19.  Last night, our Google Ads were suspended.  Why?  You tell us based on the e-mail they sent me:

While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense
account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers. Since
keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage
our advertisers in the future, we’ve decided to disable your account.

Please understand that we consider this a necessary step to protect the
interests of both our advertisers and our other AdSense publishers. We
realize the inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you in
advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions about your account or the actions we’ve
taken, please do not reply to this email. You can find more information
by visiting
https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153&hl=en_US.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

I have no clue why Google removed our ads and why they yanked our $2.79 or so in revenue.  And I really have a hard time believing that this is for the best interest of their advertisers.  Why?  Because Google does things that are NOT in the best interest of their advertisers, like allowing people to have a domain up with a single page where Google hosts nothing but ads on it.  How is that traffic in anyway good for an advertiser?  What that sort of thing does is encourage bad practices amongst domain owners, encourages squatting on domain names, etc.

Google often sucks for the people that host their ads and advertisers; they cheat both out of lots of money.

Slash is not gay: Homosexuality, class and fan fiction communities, A historical perspective

January 27th, 2010

I wrote this back in 2006 or so.  It has been on the wiki for a while. When it was first posted, the response was not positive with people asserting that slashfiction was actually gay. Given the recent discussion, I thought it might be worth reposting on Fan History’s blog.

Preface

When I first set out to write this, I had a lot of knowledge about the history of slash, historical attitudes towards slash and anti-slash activities. I knew bits and pieces of the history of GLBT literature in the science fiction community. I had a decent amount of knowledge regarding the literary fan fiction community in parts that never eventually blended with the media fan fiction communities. What I lacked was solid demographic information regarding the composition of fandom and fan fiction communities. It appears that, historically, there have not been serious studies looking into the composition of fan fiction communities in examining race, class and attitudes towards homosexuality. This seems to be a serious oversight from a structuralist perspective. When one is talking about existing fan fiction communities, one should know the attitudes and composition that preceded these in order to fully understand what is happening and what happened. Fan fiction does not exist in a vacuum. It is intrinsically woven into the fabric of popular culture, which is in turn woven into wider cultural practices in the English speaking world. Further research didn’t turn up the answers to the demographic questions I had but it did give insight, changed my views and widened my perspective.

The new knowledge I acquired upset my perspective a bit. It is a bit hard to argue class warfare in fandom when you find that most of fandom, based on various accounts, is middle class and upper class. Fandom and fan fiction communities do not seem to be the domain of the working class… or at least the domain of people who identify with the working class. At best, fandom has middle class culture clashes. These can probably be traced to issues related to class as members have moved from one class to another or perceived themselves as being in the middle class. This middle class culture clash with other parts of the middle class comes across in fan fiction related studies when scholars dismiss, or deem feral, a group of fen who do not meet with their understanding of how fan communities operate. Fan fiction communities have never been truly homogenous in composition; they have roots in disparate communities of music, sports, science fiction, traditional literary circles, the cult of celebrity, television and more. Each of these communities has its own communities that fill certain cultural and personal needs for members of the middle and upper classes.

Which leads me to writing not the article I thought I was going to write, but rather writing a more in depth article discussing class, culture, slash, and homosexuality from a historical perspective. Given previous situations in fandom, it is bitingly aware that fan fiction communities do not have a universal definition of what it means to be homosexual, gay, lesbian or transgendered, and many people commenting on the issue compound the problem by writing from a straight, white perspective. As such, this article needs to define gay, lesbian and homosexual before a serious discussion of the topic can be undertaken. According to several sources, definition is a big problem for many GLBT historians. Just defining what these terms mean can take up the major part of an article on this topic. To ease this problem and give a perspective, the three terms, gay, lesbian and homosexual, are used interchangeably in this piece. The understood definition is based definitions read elsewhere and ones found below:

Gay is used as an adjective to describe sexual orientation (attraction, preference, or inclination) and is usually chosen instead of homosexual as an identity-label.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay)
gay (gay) n. Term used to describe a man who is attracted to other men. Also overextended to describe women who are attracted to other women. :::(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html#gay)
Gay – The term applied to a person (especially a man) who is emotionally and sexually attracted to members of the same sex. In some cases, the term is applied to people who have same-sex sexual relations even if they do not identify themselves as gay (“He’s gay, he just can’t admit it”). On the other had, people may be said to be gay whether or not they have sexual relations with a member of the same sex (“I was always gay, I just never did anything about it”). The most specific definition reserves this term for those who identify themselves as gay and as members of the gay community. Traditionally, “gay” has been the generic term to refer to both women and men. However, it has also been used to refer to men only (as the word “man” has been used to refer to us all). Because this generic use makes women invisible, the current preference in much of the LGB community is for the term “gay” to refer to gay men (often “gay men” or “gay males” is used to further clarify the meaning of the term), and “lesbians” to refer to women. This position is shared by the America Psychological Association. (http://safezone.georgetown.edu/sz4-1.html)
Gay 2. A man whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to other men. He may have sex with men currently or may have had sex with men in the past. A smaller number of gay men may never have had sex with another man for many reasons such as age, societal pressures, lack of opportunity or fear of discrimination, but nonetheless realize that their sexual attraction is mainly to other men. It is important to note that some men who have sex with other men, sometimes exclusively, may not call themselves gay. (http://principles.ucdavis.edu/glossary.html)
Homosexual: Individual with a primary sexual and affectional orientation or emotional attraction toward persons of the same sex. Male homosexuals are often referred to as “gay,” whereas female homosexuals are referred to as “lesbians.” Historically, the psychologically appropriate and sensitive term to identify individuals who were primarily sexually aroused by others of the same sex. (http://principles.ucdavis.edu/glossary.html)
LBGT abbv. lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered.
(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html)
lesbian (lehz’-bee-ehn) n. A gay female.
(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html#lesbian)
Lesbian – A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. The term comes from the isle of Lesbos, where the poet, Sappho, established a community of women in the 7th century BC. Much of Sappho’s poetry spoke of love for women. Currently, the term lesbian is popular in many segments of the LGB community, and is the term deemed appropriate by the APA to designate homosexual women. It is preferred as a term that makes women clearly visible in LGB issues, acknowledging that lesbian issues are not entirely the same as gay men’s issues. However, some members of the LGB community do not prefer this term. Some believe it is too political and may be divisive (why separate ourselves from gay men?). Others feel that it sounds too clinical or pathological.
(http://safezone.georgetown.edu/sz4-1.html)
queer (kweer) n. adj. One who is LBGT. (Can be derogatory if used by a non-queer.)
(http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Cafe/1017/lexicon.html)
Queer: Once known as a derogatory term for homosexual, Queer was reclaimed by lesbian, gay, and bisexual activist in the 1980′s as a proud name for themselves. Queer blurs both gender and sexual orientation and is regarded as more inclusive of difference than lesbian or gay.
(http://www.number-one-adult-sexual-health-terms-advisor.com/queerterms.htm)
Queer: The precise definition varies. The term has been used to refer to a gay, lesbian or transsexual. (http://www.religioustolerance.org/sexdefnhr.htm)

Body The word fandom dates back to 1896. 1 Some of the earlier newspaper records use the word in the context of sports and movie fan communities. 2 These references to fans describe fans in ways that could be understood as middle and upper class. They are described as intelligent, articulate and well read. They have money to attend movies and buy newspapers on a regular basis. Fandom members are affluent enough to be expected to show up at events with their cars, in an era when a car was a luxury. The sports and literary 3 fandoms of that pre-World War II era were filled with men. The movie fandom was filled with women. These fandom roles were class and gender appropriate for their era.

And thus fandom was off and running in the modern context. It starts off as the domain of the middle class with members meeting appropriate gender related roles. Mass media depictions and scholarly articles did not infer an infusion of the working class in fandom. This is a period where labor law reforms 4 have not yet taken place, where the working class have limited leisure time and limited money to spend on leisure activities.

During this period, homosexuality was absent, based on current sources, from the limited fannish discussion taking place. Culturally, it would not have been tolerated. In the United States, it would have upset traditional gender roles. In the United Kingdom, it would have threatened nationalistic sentiments. (King) Bringing sex into discussions was still taboo, as the Victorian culture was still firmly in place.

Literature based “fan fiction” communities in the vein of Sherlock Holmes would continue after World War II ended. In England, membership to literary societies producing pastiches would continue to be male dominated with many of the members being titled. These organizations included Baker Street Irregulars and Sherlock Holmes Literary Society. They frequently included some of the best writers and influential society members of the day. Members would meet, socialize, analyze the works and share their pastiches. Some of these pastiches would go on to be published professionally or semi-professionally. The discussions that come down to us sixty years later give no indications that the topics discussed would have really challenged gender roles or sexual taboos present at the time.

Still, World War II had begun to change some perceptions of gender roles for the lower classes. There emerged a “pink collar” work force, with jobs that were working and middle class. Sexism was high and women of this class were on the front lines of the battle to redefine who they were. They were yet to take on the battle of dealing with racial and ethnic divisions still a fundamental part of American life. (May)

It was in this climate that the science fiction and fantasy fandom began to emerge on a much larger, more organized scale. The classics for the genre were being written. Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov were writing. Important magazines that were fundamental to the fandom had been in existence for some time. Active, principle members of this community were generally of the middle and upper classes. A number were politically active or wrote stories that featured social commentaries. Some of these stories spoke to a classless society, an ideal that many science fiction fans in the working class could relate to and which made it difficult for them to associate with their own class. Science fiction at this time could not escape the boys club that other genres and more classic pastiche communities were basing their work on. Estimates put the number of total male participation for the whole fandom at upwards of ninety percent. Women’s involvement was much smaller and opportunities were limited; the ones who wanted to publish frequently had to publishing under male pseudonyms in order to find a publisher for novels or short stories. Male homosexuality, while heard of in the fandom in the era right after the end of the World War II, was frowned upon and open homosexuality could close every door to publishing for fear of alienating audiences who did not want to read homosexual content, nor read works by known homosexuals.

According to John Fiske, the role of the audience was reconceptualized as popular culture began to take shape and form in a commercial form at the end of World War II. It brought with it such things as professional wrestling with a regular audience that trended more female than male. Fiske cites sources which put the female audience at 60% attendance of live events and roughly ninety percent of the audience for televised audience. Wrestling was helped in a large part by television, a technology being embraced by the middle class, and by live performances at venues such as Comiskey Park and Madison Square Garden. Like music fen that were to follow them and science fiction fen operating during the same time period, this group of fen was actively producing fan created material and fanzines. Fiske notes that among the things they were creating were poems, based on the wrestling they were watching. They were writing stories. They were creating fanzines. There is nothing to suggest the presence of homosexual content or using fanzines to propagate discussion of that issue, to discuss gender roles, poverty, race or class.
As the 1950s ended and the 1960s began, a turbulent era was set to begin. There was the civil rights movement, class issues, feminist issues and issues relating to sexuality, orientation and gender. 5 1960 starts this era off with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, signed by Eisenhower. The battle of the sexes has fuel added to it in 1960 when the birth control pill went on sale in 1960 in the United States. Both of these events would benefit people of all classes but the group who felt the greatest impact was American working class women and minorities. The English speaking world is about to be rocked when in 1960, Brian Epstein discovered the Beatles. In 1961, states like Illinois begin to decriminalize sodomy. In 1963, the first gay rights demonstration took place in the United States. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty and signed the US Civil Rights Act. That same year, race riots took place in Philadelphia. In 1965, Malcolm X was killed and more American troops were sent to Vietnam as bombing of the country continued. Race riots continued and protests against the Vietnam war escalated. In 1966, the first gay student organization was founded.

It was in this climate that science fiction became a greater part of the fabric of American popular culture. In the science fiction community, several of the bigger, more well known authors would venture into areas which explored human sexuality. This included Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land, published in 1961. (Wikipedia) This was viewed as pushing the envelope. Still, openly gay authors who were not classic were finding it hard to get published their work, explicit homosexual content or not. The audience for the material had an increasingly working class audience in terms of income but in striving to meet that utopian ideal, did not identify that way. This trend of class identification would continue into the future. While much of the content continued to espouse utopian ideals and had begun to look at issues relating to women’s rights and gender, it was still a small, minority voice which lacked central figures and organizational support. Given the lack of organizational support in the wider GLBT community, that this was the case is not at all surprising.

The lack of a GLBT contingent is not surprising. The middle class, which made up a large component of the science fiction community, had been traditionally hostile towards this community. Those with jobs or an income that would place them in the working class from the science fiction community were identifying as middle class. Discussions with fans from that era suggest that they were also willing to borrow values from the middle class as part of their perceived assimilation into that class. Science fiction, while being out there on the forefront of political issues, was not that way in addressing private morality. The working class did not identify with the genre if they wanted to keep their class identification. The upper class at that time only resented homosexuals and Jews for their positions of power in terms of defining creativity and signally what they felt might be a new and threatening creative class.

This was the stage that was set for the Star Trek fandom and fan fiction community which grew out of the science fiction fandom. 6

Before Star Trek aired in 1967, the Beatles made their American debut and on February 7, 1964, they arrived in New York City for their first American tour. (Whelan) According to Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess, and Gloria Jacobs in their essay “Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” this marked “the first mass outburst of the sixties to feature women – in this case girls, who would not reach full adulthood until the seventies and the emergence of a genuinely political movement for women’s liberation.” This group was composed of primarily middle class, white teenagers. The Beatles were rejected early by many adults for due to the group member’s long hair and sexually explicit lyrics. African American teenage girls of all classes were not fans of the group on a large scale, preferring music like jazz, the blues and other music coming out of their own communities. (Ehrenreich) This group of fans would, like other groups of fans before them, create their own fan products. This included fanzines. The fannish oral tradition alive today is implicit in their being fictional stories about band members being circulated during the early years of the band’s history. This is substantiated by Ehrenreich, Hess and Jacob’s essay which says such things as “girls exchanged Beatle magazines or cards, and gathered to speculate obsessively on the details and nuances of Beatle life.”

But what about homosexuality? The Beatles were at the forefront for many white, middle class teenage girls in helping them redefine their own definition of sexuality and their own definitions of what it meant to be female. (Ehrenreich) This was taking place in an era where there was that increased debate on subjects like “birth, a woman’s obligation to society, and conception, bringing with it all of the bitterness and acrimony that have long surrounded these issues, beginning with perhaps the most obvious one of them all — Sexism.” (Rowland) Legal gender differences between men and women were beginning to fall. (Rowland) For young fans of the Beatles, popular culture was helping them by giving them real examples of people challenging American perceptions of gender. Real men just did not have long hair back then. The traditional middle class reacted to some of these changing gender roles, the “feminizing” of men by questioning a person’s sexuality or clearly labeling them homosexual. During this period, homosexuality was being portrayed to the middle class, with some help from working class homosexuals who were seeking to gain equal rights to practice certain sex acts, as promiscuous, with homosexuals having loads and loads of sex, of being homosexuals being obsessed with sex and not participating in long term monogamous relationships. Beatles fen were discussing these things, liking the fact that these traditional gender roles were being upset. They found the Beatles sexy. At the same time, these fen, like their fellow fen forty years later, fantasized about being involved with a member of the band. The average fan knew this wasn’t possible. The fans resented when a member of the band was involved with other women. They did not want to see that happen. It is highly probable, that given this and the fact that they were writing fictional stories featuring the Beatles, that some of the Beatles were written as homosexual if only as a way to ensure that the object of the fan’s lust, since they could not be hers, would never belong to another female fan.

The Beatles fandom is thus underway and the mid to late 1960s start. Several shows are on television for the first time that will spawn fandoms and fan fiction communities that will be the larger fan fiction community almost forty years later. These shows include Man from U.N.C.L.E., Doctor Who, Star Trek and others. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fandom followed the trend of earlier television, media and celebrity based fandoms. The fan club was created one a year after the show was on the air. That fandom and the Doctor Who fannish community were both active in writing drawerfics, fan fiction circulated by hand with a tiny circulation that was not published in a zine. Demographic information pertaining to class, race and gender of these communities at this time is not accessible. It makes speculating on what was happening in those domains difficult.

So there you have the Star Trek fandom. It first aired on September 8, 1966. By 1967, the Star Trek fandom would produce the first Star Trek fanzine, Spockanalia. Spockanalia was the first Star Trek fanzine to be produced. It was created by Devra Langsam and Sherna Comerford with a contribution from Dorothy Jones and a letter from Leonard Nimoy. (Verba) Later editions would contain examples of fan fiction. The early creation of fanzines by this community is directly attributable to the experience of early Star Trek fen involvement in the science fiction fandom. From that community, they pulled publishing practices, convention hosting, organizational skills and more. Star Trek fans identified class wise and are portrayed in historical recountings the same way that members of the science fiction fandom did. The only major difference between the two is the overwhelming prevalence of women in the Star Trek fandom, with men as a clear minority.

Star Trek, like parts of the genre from which it sprung, offered various types of political and social commentary. Geraghty in “Creating and Comparing Myth in Twentieth-Century Science Fiction: “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”" puts the thrust of the original series’ political message as one supporting the United Status’s manifest destiny and westward expansion. Geraghty also claims that Star Trek sometimes falls prey to “perpetuating the “white only” myth.” Some episodes such as “Return of the Archons” argue against things like the drug culture, a culture with a large representation coming from the working class. Other episodes such as “Errand of Mercy,” argues Geraghty, are about allegories fighting communism. The Christian Bible is cited as a source of the laws of the Federation by Kirk’s lawyer in the episode “Court-Martial.” (Kreitzer) It is an optimistic view of the United States, promising a future for Americans who were suffering from the pull of various social conflicts and Vietnam that were going on at the time.

None of the above, culturally, points to a Star Trek fan community that would be tolerant, supportive and fostering of GLBT issues. The show itself did not address the issue. The science fiction community, upon which the Star Trek fan fiction community would be built, was not tolerant. There were several hostile elements in terms of getting published and propagating ideas and concepts that could be construed as homofriendly. The nationalistic elements referenced in the show are not that far time wise removed from the nationalistic period which called homosexuality un-American. The Christian Bible’s use as a foundation for law was one of the reasons used to justify discrimination against various classes in American society.

As the 1970s rolled around, events continued to happen. In the United States, environmentalism began to be a cause embraced by parts of the middle class. Women’s rights efforts started to gain more traction with the middle class. Stonewall, which happened in June of 1970, had ignited the gay rights movement but in a way that aggravated some in the middle class as it sometimes portrayed homosexuality as a culture that tolerated promiscuous behavior.
As far flung and separated fandoms entered the 1970s and later the 1980s, three fan fiction communities continued to stick out in fannish memory as documented in interviews, newspaper articles, magazine articles, books, Usenet and mailing lists. These communities include the traditional literary fan fiction, the music fan fiction community and media fan fiction communities. Each would have their own issues, based on their class and gender composition.

Starting in the 1970s and 1980s, there was the anomaly to the traditional middle class and upper class fandom. This anomaly was the punk music community. There were numerous fannish communities based on different punk bands. Most of the membership for these fandoms was working class. These working class fen used their extra money to attend music sessions by their favorite local punk artists. They were male and female. They were misfits. This group of fen used Xerox machines to produce fanzines. Ones like Cometbus frequently included samples of fictional stories about the band. Some of these stories according to fannish lore featured musicians not just written as being involved in same sex sexual couplings but as homosexuals; they were written and coded that way. This was frequently done with the knowledge of the band members involved as many of those fen had access to the artists. While they may not always have supported the material and have actively considered them rubbish, they did not apparently step up and crack down on those materials. The reasoning for this is that music played with those gender issues, those orientation issues, operated on the cultural fringes, with a number of artists in the community being out, out like people in other fandoms could not be. This type of fannish behavior and related attitudes stayed with the community well into the 1990s.
Titled, rich, male, money to spend and an interest in Sherlock Holmes are some ways that the Sherlock Holmes community was characterized historically. This characterization carried into the 1970s. “Elementary Facts of Holmes Fandom” by Bob Cromie appeared in the Chicago Tribune on page 18 of January 12, 1972′s edition. The Sherlock Holmes fandom of that time was characterized by Cromie as having been historically male, with male fen being offended when a female only branch of the Baker Street Irregulars was founded. The men in the article were described as semi-professional writers, obsessed with the works about Sherlock Holmes. The issues of female involvement, of women breaking down doors and trying to enter there space and being resentful of their intrusion, seems to be very characteristic of upper class issues dealing with gender at the time, where trophy wives were still in play and women were supposed to support their men.

In 1974, Diane Marchant sat down, wrote and published a story featuring two characters, gender some what ambiguous and using highly coded language. (Boyd, Langley) The story was titled “A Fragment Out of Time” and it was not until later discussion that the author made it clear that the story featured the Kirk/Spock pairing. The community, through letterzines, reviewzines and discussion at conventions, discussed this material. There was a degree of hostility towards this material. Some of this hostility stemmed from the fact that ew, homosexual content, ew! This was not something people of their class should be writing. It was not something that was traditionally associated with the science fiction fandom. It happened in the same year that the great Star Trek – science fiction schism started. The science fiction community, overwhelming male, felt that Star Trek fen, overwhelming female, would overshadow and marginalize other science fiction being produced at the time. The science fiction community was further annoyed by what they felt was the consistently inferior product distributed by the Star Trek fan fiction community, a community that just the year before had given name to Mary Sue. Making this infusion of Kirk/Spock fan fiction was the fact that some parts of the community started to actively embrace this material and more of appeared in the ensuing years.

But as this material grew, so did resentment. One way to counter this resentment was to remind fen, repeatedly, that they were heterosexual and female. The articles coming out by scholars at that time emphasize that. The husband and wife zine producing duos helped draw attention to that. Fen were also keen on ingraining in other fen the idea that Kirk and Spock were clearly heterosexuals. This was something that was indoctrinated into fen. Kirk and Spock might be involved with each other but that was due to the lack of other options and true love; heterosexual identity remained intact. At the same time that slash was increasing, so was the amount of sexually explicit material. This would lead to a rift in the fandom by 1979, where a number of fen left and joined the Star Wars fandom to avoid this content. This conflict would carry over into other fandoms during the 1980s.

The Starsky and Hutch, like most media fandoms of the 1980s, was mostly middle class in identification. And like most media fandoms, it had its homophobic moments. It also lacked very visibly out and proud gays and lesbians in the community. The early community tried to deter slash or keep it underground out of fear. One example of this dates to 1981 when Code 7 was published. The zine was published anonymously as there was a real fear in the American fan fiction community that the anti-slash component of the fan fiction community would send the material to the producers of the show and create other problems for those slash writers in their real lives. According to me_n_thee, the zine contained the following disclaimer: “This is a privileged and private publication; it was sent to you because you know the value and need for discretion. You are being trusted; if you misuse this trust, you will be harming not only the contributors, but all of S/H fandom. Please keep this zine entirely to yourself! Thank you.” Slash fen in the community felt very threatened by others. They feared fen outings them to their employers and being otherwise harassed. (Boyd)

Going to another fandom, the same demographics of other media fandoms are there: middle class, female and white. The Battlestar Galatica fandom of the same period made it very clear to fen that they might be writing stories with m/m characters but that fen needed to remember, were indoctrinated in the idea that the characters, while being written in m/m relationships, were still fundamentally heterosexual.
The 1980s also saw the start of the backlash against adult material and what was then described as homoerotic material in the Star Wars fandom. 7 The Star Wars fan fiction community was founded shortly after the release of the first movie. The fan fiction community, being built by people with experience from other fannish communities like Star Trek would quickly put out the first stories and fanzines. The first story to arrive on the scene was published in Warped Space or Scuttlebutt. Unlike the Star Trek community’s relationship with Paramount, Lucasfilms Ltd. would be involved and trying to maintain some control on the type of content which appeared, according to Verba, almost from the start. One of the earliest pieces of fan fiction was published this year. According to Langley and Verba, the story was most likely published in Warped Space.

By 1981, the Star Wars m/m situation got to the point where Lucasfilms Ltd. felt they needed to act to protect their interests. The community was primed and this year would be the one remembered. In May, Guardian #3 was published. This fanzine contained two version of a story called “A Slow Boat to Bespin.” One story was by A. E. Zeek. The other story was by B. Wenk. While both of these stories featured heterosexual pairings, Zeek’s story contained material that would, in today’s society, likely garner an R rating. This story was the reason that the publishers of Guardian #3 likely received a cease and desist letter from Maureen Garrett, the first president of the Star Wars fan club. Several other zines during the same period, including ones that had published slashed, received similar cease and desist notices. In response to the demand for clarity on what was acceptable to publish and not publish, Maureen Garrett promised guidelines. None came until October. When they came, they were not viewed as being particularly helpful. The guidelines were nothing more than a statement saying Lucasfilms Ltd. would not tolerate pornography, vulgar material, and material that was excessively violent or gory. (Langley) The net effect of this incident was that it shut down almost all production of slash in the Star Wars community. This created an increase of people from other communities where m/m and f/f was more prevalent but who did not like this material joining the community. Fen who did not leave or who were active in both also began campaigns around this time, trying to convince the powers that be in their fannish communities to crack down on m/m and f/f, like Lucasfilms Ltd. had done.

The Star Wars pornography problem in relation to m/m and f/f comment was probably exacerbated by the working class homosexual community being viewed as one that was, by their nature, promiscuous. The white, female middle class did not associate homosexuality with orientation but rather with sex acts, lots and lots of sex acts. As such anything with m/m or f/f content was not about homosexuality, vis-à-vis orientation, but homosexuality sex acts. It made even fan fiction featuring m/m content and coding sexually suspect because of the relationship that white middle class women came up with that made homosexuality about sex. It was further suspect because of the pains taken by more than a few of these fen to continue to indoctrinate their fellow fen into the idea that the characters, while having gay sex, still had an orientation of heterosexual. The inherent conflict with adult material and homosexual content would not be resolved in the fandom until the early 1990s.

The concept of sexual orientation is a new one. The word homosexual did not enter the English language until 1869, and then it was used in the context of certain sex acts that would happen between two men. (University of Waterloo) Gay meaning homosexual men was first used in the 1920s by gay men. (Harper) The usage of gay “as a noun meaning “a (usually male) homosexual” is attested from 1971.” (Harper) Lesbian is first used relating to homosexual women in 1890. (Harper) Is it any wonder that, given the lateness of these concepts into the Western psyche that it would take media fandom eighteen years after the first Star Trek fan fiction was published and eleven years after the first m/m story was published that a word would be created to describe m/m fan fiction? According to Boyd, Curtin and Langley, slash was not used in the fan fiction community until 1985. 8

When one goes back in time and looks at some of the definitions found based on fan recollections, Usenet and early web definitions, it becomes crystal clear that the word slash meant what fen had understood the concept to mean before a word was informally adopted to describe it. Early definitions of slash defined slash as Kirk/Spock stories, stories about two heterosexual men involved m/m relationship with each other, non-canon pairings. The heterosexual aspect was implicit and understood. Stories written from that period lacked coding to define characters as gay. In fact, such coding of characters as gay would have been a turn off for some readers. Authorial and group intent was clear, indoctrinated, that these characters were heterosexuals who found their one true love or who just happened to sleep with a guy. Slash was clearly was not gay, was not gay literature. And this was understood that way by the community at the time; no one would have confused it for being gay literature for the white, middle class heterosexual women reading it.

Conclusion

Modern fandom dates back to the 1890s. From the outset, fandom was dominated by members who identified as middle class or upper class. For the most part, this was a community that, once media fan fiction communities became dominant, were heavily female. The only real deviations from this pattern included fan fiction communities based on musical groups during the 1970s and 1980s and literary pastiche communities. The values and morality brought by fen into fan fiction communities helped to shape the nature of fan fiction communities. They are one of the primary reasons that slash cannot be a product that could be considered gay, nor a form of gay literature. Given the historical roots of slash as non-gay, it is unlikely that most slash will be considered gay, nor gay literature any time in the near future.9

Footnotes

1 Oxford English Dictionary’s Science Fiction Words Site dates the first usage to “antedating 1896 Washington Post, Oct 10, 1896″

2 References to fandom found in the Chicago Daily Tribune. See References for more specific details as to some of the sources found.

3 There is some credible evidence to suggest that there was a literary community of young, female writers involved in the writing of pastiche based on the work of Jane Austen during this era. This is referenced by Jenkins but was not found in newspaper articles searches for that period.

4 For a timeline of labor in the United States, see A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers found at http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/curricul.htm

5 There are a number of good books which address this topic in various forms. Some of my favorites of the moment include The Boundaries of Her Body, the Troubling History of Women’s Rights in America by Debran Rowland, The Way We Never Were by Stephanie Coontz, Sex Ed: Film, Video, and the Framework of Desire by Robert T. Eberwein, Undeserving Poor by Michael Katz, and American Century: A History of the United States Since 1941 by Walter Lafeber.

6 There is an anecdote repeated in the Star Trek fandom regarding the screening of the pilot at a science fiction convention. Gene Roddenberry was showing the pilot at some convention, premiering it for the first time before an audience whom he hoped would be kind to it and to gauge their feelings on it. He shushed two people talking during the screening. One of those people was Isaac Asimov.

7 An amusing side story detailing what was going on at the time involves Mark Hamill. At the same time that Lucasfilms Ltd. was cracking down on Star Wars erotica, some Han/Luke fan fiction writers kept leaving this material at Hamill’s house.

8 According to Langley in a phone interview in the summer of 2005, this date is subject to some leeway as the date was ascertained by herself and Mary Ellen Curtin going through fanzines in their extensive, personal collections and trying to find the earliest usage. Langley’s date of 1985 is helped as she was a long time participant in fandom and can draw upon her own fannish experiences to put a time frame on the date. When looking through Usenet records from that period of the 1980s, the fact that the word might not have been used till that time is logical. The Kirk/Spock convention of using the slash to denote a romantic pairing was still not standardized until the late 1980s, early 1990s. The word is not used in Star Trek Lives! but has picked up enough usage to be used by Henry Jenkins in 1992. Verba’s discussion in her book, Boldly Writing, uses the word slash in the index but as a see K/S. K&S is used by the Verba to denote Kirk/Spock friendship stories.

9 The issue of heterosexual characters involved in same sex pairings continued well after 1985. Shows like QAF challenged terminology and understood definitions of slash. Could same sex pairings between canonically homosexual characters be gay? The discussion that resulted from that time period was a rather definitive no, it wasn’t slash because the characters were not heterosexual. Demographic studies of fen after 1990 began to show a more sizable GLBT presence in fan fiction communities. By some estimates, the number was as high as thirty percent. In some fandoms like Xena, the number was undoubtedly higher. More stories being written included coded GLBT material but more often than not, the average piece of m/m or f/f slash doesn’t.

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The Anatomy of Fail

January 27th, 2010

Fan History’s admins make an effort to try to document some of the major fails and wank in LiveJournal media fandom.  When we cover it, we tend to really cover it, making a major effort to build comprehensive list links that cover all perspectives.  Some of the major wank/fails we have covered include Race!Fail, Mammoth!Fail, Privilege wank (also called Warnings!Fail), Russet Noon, Lambda Fail and the Slash Debate.

The Slash Debate is the one that is ongoing at the moment and I was curious as to how this particular fail’s life cycle compared to other fails.  I went to the Fan History pages, which sorted posts by date they appeared, and counted.  I got the following chart:

This chart only looks at the first 30 days of fail.  For The Slash Debate, numbers are only current to January 25, 2010 and may be subject to change as we find more posts.  The Slash Debate “officially”  kicked off on January 29, 2009.  Russet Noon kicked off on March 23, 2009.  Lambda Fail kicked off on September 16, 2009.   Race Fail kicked off on January 8, 2009.  I stopped counting and moved new post totals over to Mammoth!Fail, which started on May 4, 2009. Privilege Wank started on June 18, 2009.

There aren’t any days in the first 30 where all wanks moved up or down together.  For the second day, Slash Debate, Race Fail and Mammoth Fail both had a decrease in posts, whereas Privilege wank, Russet Noon and Lambda Fail saw an increase.  Some of this might be the metafandom effect: Posts that are listed on and play to a metafandom audience have a lag as people use the list to find fandom news.  Posts that play to smaller groups on LiveJournal, get featured on unfunnybusinees or fandomwank, or get a lot of attention and play to a wider audience than metafandom see a major interest in posting about it right away: There is no delay in timeliness because metafandom is slow to focus on those issues.

Between day 10 and day 14, there tends to be a big drop off in posting volume with an increase after that.  (The exception is Privilege/Warnings wank, which ended on Day 8.  Considering the topic, it makes sense.  People complained of being triggered by some of the posts.)

On Day 26, three of the four still active wanks saw bumps in interest: Slash Debate, Mammoth Fail, Race!Fail.  The exception was Russet Noon.  By day 26, if the discussion continues to be ongoing, there is a greater awareness by a wider audience who might not have seen earlier posts and people who were silent, seeing that the discussion is not dying down, may feel compelled to speak up rather than remain silent.

For all the aforementioned fails, minus Russet Noon, we have a list of people who posted.  I was curious how large the population was that participated across those fails as often, it seems like the same people are participating again and again and that people are not learning lessons from one fail to the next.  I compiled those lists and then created the following venn diagrams that show the people in common.

Some of the participants across multiple fails surprised me and there were some names that I thought would be on there that weren’t. For the second, it could be because people who are known to be involved in fail and wank are less about posting and more about commenting on other people’s posts.

Still, interesting bit of data worth keeping in mind when you see the next fail coming. You can begin to get an idea as to how long it will take, what the posting patterns will be and who to look out for as their involvement could signal major fail.

Who Can Save Mediaminer.org From A Slow Death?

January 26th, 2010

For several years, I have been a member of Mediaminer.org. The site is a place for users to share their fanfiction and fanart, as well as connect. The site has not changed much design-wise. Some of the backend is broken as the database often fails to connect to user profiles.

And, the moderators seem non-existent. How do I know? I tried contacting them over a false incident of plagiarism that they failed to look into. In fact, the only response was being informed of the incident in a very unprofessional manner. This site has a lot of users that have signed up, but looking at the Mediaminer’s statistics through Alexa, this site is going toward a slow death. Even on Alexa, the site’s description is “Xxx Movies.” That is a serious factor that the site is crying for serious attention to be updated.

The Mediaminer forum is a serious reflection of this slowly dying site as the forums once thrived with thousands of new threads a day and now dwindling to at least a dozen.

Mediaminer is actually a potential hub for great fanfiction. The amount on anime fanfiction is great, almost third to Fanfiction.net, and Adultfanfiction.net.

The problem is that there are a lot of factors against them:
- Lack of moderator presence (including looking into serious accusations before making rash decisions)
- Lack of community
- Needing a major upgrade to fix the bugs, glitches, and database errors.
- More efficient and user-friendly design, including a far better front page than gobs of bordered tables and text
- Focus on encouraging the community to interact

However, the scariest factor is knowing the site of its size is just not properly moderated. If Mediaminer wants to encourage people to actually purchase space or attract more advertisers, they may want to pay more attention to the site.

A history and my take on The Slash Debate

January 20th, 2010

The Slash Debate continues to go on and the longer it has gone on, the more I wanted to comment on it.  The problem is how to do that thoughtfully, acknowledging both sides and the shades of grey in between the major position.  If you aren’t aware, the Slash Debate kicked off in response to “Man on Man: The New Gay Romance … … written by and for straight women” by Gendy Alimurung in LA Weekly.  Some gay men found the article objectionable because it ignored them completely in explaining about a genre that comes out of their own tradition.  This kerfluffle was on the heels of LambdaFail, where straight writers were upset over having been deliberately excluded from awards honoring GLBT literature.

I haven’t completely followed the whole argument as it morphed into a discussion about m/m slash, but one of the major points that developed was that gay men were upset about straight women writing homoerotic fan fiction for their own sexual gratification, feeling that they were being stereotyped in a less than flattering light, that m/m slash was not helping the GLBT movement and that, ultimately, they were being othered in a genre that was fundamentally about them.  This upset some members of the m/m slash community who felt that men were trying to tell women how to define their own sexuality, trying to restrict their freedom to write, that gay men had no reason to complain because they did the same thing to women with their drag performances, etc.

This whole argument happened against a backdrop of 2009, where some members of fandom were upset about the portrayal of people of color in fiction, and how fandom treated people of color.  Some of the dominant voices during that conversation insisted that white people sit and listen to the people of color, that people of color should be deferred that to when writing people of color, that fundamentally all white people were racists, that just because some people of color were not offended doesn’t mean that a person’s actions aren’t racist.  The Slash Debate flips some of that on its head: Gay men are not being deferred to in terms of how they are depicted by others, where those offended are slotted into a minority position that should be ignored because they are not representative.

Where this argument differs from Race!Fail involves sex and the attempts to regulate kink, sexual interests, how we explore them, what is acceptable and not acceptable.   People just aren’t comfortable with people trying to dictate those interests and that’s why the slash defenders are probably taking their position: We shouldn’t be judged based on personal and private kinks and getting off on m/m slash a personal turn on for many people.  When we perceive these as being attacked, we tend to attack back no matter how right or wrong the defense of these may be in the context of hurting others.

I don’t have a problem with your kink. …  Except when your kink involves shotacon and chan.  But otherwise, your kink is your kink and it may not be my kink but that’s okay as we all have different turn ons. I just dislike the rationalizations for why your kink is not actually offensive to people who find your public expressions of your kink as harmful to their identity, undermining their community and stereotyping them in a way that is unflattering and inaccurate.  Own your kink but don’t rationalize the problems away.  That’s hypocritical and harmful, especially harmful in this case if you’re also purporting to support gay rights while doing what people perceive as undermining those.

One of the cases of supporting the position that this material isn’t offensive that has bothered me is that the fan fiction community that is being criticized is queer and those dissenting voices can be ignored.  This is probably best expressed by Science, y’all and More Science.  The author looks at some polls that demonstrate that fandom is over 50% queer.  If you start breaking down the numbers from the polls that have publicly viewable results, the 50%+ number is largely a result of people who are not heterosexual and mostly bisexual.  The lesbian population is about 10 to 15%.  That’s what those numbers show: Yes, the self selected population in those polls is female, mostly heterosexual, with a large bisexual population and a smaller population of lesbians.  What the author doesn’t show, and what is fundamentally important here, is that of the 500 or so people who answered LiveJournal polls with publicly available results?  Between 10 and 20 of the respondents are male.  Just ignore their orientation for now:  2% to 4% of respondents were male.  The Slash Debate is an issue of gay men not appreciating how straight women depict them in m/m slash.  The issue is not that of queer people not appreciating how straight women depict them in m/m slash.  The female queer population is thus largely irrelevant to this discussion because, well, queer women are more privileged than gay males.  If those polls demonstrated that queer males represented over 50% of our fannish population, that data would be relevant.

Why the emphasis on gender and orientation?  Because in the sexuality privilege Olympics, heterosexual males get gold.  Heterosexual women get silver.  Asexuals get bronze and last place.  (Last place because their orientation is still considered a sexual dysfunction.)  Bisexual women get fourth.  Bisexual men get fifth.  Homosexual women sixth.  Butch and African American homosexual women get six and a half place.  Homosexual men get seventh.  Queen and African American homosexuals (in the context of US culture) get seven and a half place.  This hierarchy of privilege in the context of American culture is important for understanding this argument.

Gay men are less privileged than lesbian women.  When lesbian women start talking about how this material is not offensive and how homosexuality is depicted in slash is not problematic, they are speaking from a place of privilege.  In the United States, lesbian women are often portrayed as hot, sexy and not threatening to American definitions of masculinity.  And anyway, a lesbian can always become straight if she sleeps with a guy.  (Which, no, is not true but it is an attitude that I know some people hold which is why they see lesbians as less problematic than gay men. ) Added to that, American culture, and to a degree English culture, have idealized female friendship and elevated it.  It is natural that women’s relationships might go that way.  One of the major exceptions to this involves butch lesbians, who challenge traditional gender roles, face their own discrimination and are rarely if ever seen on television compared to their non-butch counterparts.

Gay men? They aren’t that privileged in the United States.  Gay men are seen as challenging traditional gender roles.  Gay men felt the brunt of events like Stonewall.  Gay men faced people more actively trying to legislate their sex lives, to criminalize their sex lives.  When people sought to prosecute homosexual sex, they tended to go after gay men.  In the United States, making jokes at the expense of male homosexuals is still much more tolerated.  Remember all the Brokeback Mountain jokes?  People were okay with that and there was no outrage over those, much less outrage than if some one had made similar jokes about a person of color.  Added to that, when American culture talks about gay males, they tend to focus on their sex lives or on stereotypes involving queens.  Yes, this is changing but gay men have often had it worse than lesbian women, and I do not see the two as being being on equal footing when it comes to privilege.  Any implication that they are is probably misguided.  (1) Their voices should not be silenced just because it gets in the way of enjoying your own kink.

I’ve rambled on and I had another pointed I wanted to make: Some universes are harder to read and are more problematic for fan fiction writers, in terms of the accuracy issue and the potential to offend and get things wrong.   Starsky and Hutch is set during the 1970s.  If they got together and were out at work?  It probably would not be pretty and their co-workers likely wouldn’t be okay.  Star Trek, as much as we might wish otherwise, does not present us with a happy future where homosexuality is tolerated and same sex relationships are viewed as normal.  When we do see queer characters that aren’t aliens, they tend to be evil.  In Glee, we really don’t see lesbians and the gay kid gets picked on.  (But thankfully has a supportive parent.)  In True Blood, the gay male gets murdered violently and is a drug dealer. Tolerance in that universe is not really implied. On The Good Wife, the implication is that some one is in the closet for the good of their own career.  (Or was mistakenly labeled a lesbian and isn’t bothered by it.)  Lots of these universes are just heternormative.  Squishy happy romances thus might need some care so that these realities are acknowledged, while at the same time not interfering with the audiences’s kinks.  When you’re writing and when you’re responding as a reader, that may be the most important takeaway from The Slash Debate.

1. If you’re up on the historical GLBT movement, there are some major conflicts that have taken place between gay men and lesbian women.  At times, they have had different agendas and their was a lot of resentment on both sides.  It makes for a fascinating read if you’re interested but I just didn’t want to get into that in this post.

E-mail: Infinitus 2010, Call for Proposals

January 12th, 2010

The following was sent to me via e-mail and I thought it might be of interest to people:

Greetings Past Presenters!

We at HP Education Fanon, Inc. and Infinitus want to thank you for your past involvement with HPEF events and would like to invite you to submit your proposals for Infinitus 2010. Due to popular request, our Call for Proposals deadline has been extended to Friday, February 12, 2010. We welcome submissions from all of you as we are anticipating another amazing symposium and look forward to making you a part of it.

Our CFP can be found here: http://www.infinitus2010.org/cfp.html. Please email formalprogramming@infinitus2010.org if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

Robin Martin
Chair of Formal Programming
Infinitus 2010
http://www.infinitus2010.org

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